South Africa’s 29 vulnerable species include three highly charismatic antelope – one majestic, one puckish, one like a fairy-steed. The two larger buck are specialised feeders, and subtle ecological changes may have affected their numbers. The tiny blue duiker though, is feeling the effects of forest fragmentation.

Did you know?

Roan antelope aren't very good at avoiding predators, and also can't run very fast.

 

When the sable, one of South Africa's vulnerable species, was first discovered by hunter William Cornwallis Harris in 1838, his unnamed companion declared that 'the Sable Antelope would doubtless become the admiration of the world!'

The sable's attractive markings and curved scimitar horns make it an unforgettable sight. But for various reasons, some still a mystery to science, its numbers have diminished dramatically in the wilds of South Africa, notably in their former stronghold, the Kruger National Park.

Possible reasons include climate change and ecological changes unwittingly induced by creating waterholes in dry areas. But all is not lost. Sable antelope are breeding successfully on game farms around the country.

Roan antelope, another vulnerable species in South Africa, is one of the largest and most attractive African buck, sandy coloured with a piebald clown face, curved-back horns and very long, elvish ears.

The roan antelope has very specific lifestyle and dietary requirements. It likes to rise late and live in areas with low nutrition, nibbling on selected grasses and sometimes browsing tree pods and leaves. Few other buck endure such highly niched conditions. Roan numbers have dropped sharply over the past decade or so, yet they breed well in captivity.

Another South African vulnerable species is the blue duiker, a tiny antelope with an exotic Javanese mien, not very much larger than a scrub hare on stilts.

You'll find this little buck in coastal forest, mostly on its own, rootling about the forest floor for fallen fruit and fresh leaves. Its blueish or dark maroon colour blends it into the shadows of the forest's cryptic light.

The name duiker comes from the Afrikaans word for diver, and that's exactly what it does when disturbed. They have become a vulnerable species because of the fragmentation and disturbance of their forest homes.

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Who to contact

Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 (0)11 372 3600/1/2/3
Email: ewt@org.za